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The Emotional Science Behind Bad Customer Feedback

16 Feb 2018

Negative emotions are unavoidable, and as psychologist Jonathan M. Adler describes in an article published in Scientific American, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

“One of the primary reasons we have emotions in the first place is to help us evaluate our experiences.”

Jonathan M. Adler, Ph.D.

We need our emotions to help us make decisions. Without sadness, anger, and disappointment, we wouldn’t know when something has gone wrong or how to fix it. Similarly, our excitement and sense of pride tell us what we are doing right and remind us to keep doing more of it.

This not only affects our personal lives and relationships, but our professional ones as well, especially when it comes to ecommerce and online reviews.

The changing face of customer feedback

People love to talk about their emotional experiences online and it has changed the way companies market themselves and respond to customer feedback. In fact, recent studies show that:

  1. 84% of consumers trust online reviews more than personal recommendations
  2. 49% need at least a 4-star review to keep scrolling
It is no surprise that CSAT scores, the standard measure of customer satisfaction, weigh so heavily on the success of a business. We are all familiar with online reviews and most of us have written a few ourselves. But what compels consumers to tell the world how they feel about a product or service in the first place?

Customer feedback and emotional appeal

Trustpilot, a website dedicated to online reviews, conducted a study to find out why people feel the need to speak publicly about their purchasing experiences. The one primary differentiator that beat out personal expression, ego, and sense of community, was emotional appeal.

What is emotional appeal?

Whether good or bad, consumers are much more inclined to leave a review when the experience strikes an emotional chord. If the consumer has a negative experience, particularly if they feel mistreated or dismissed, they are very likely to comment on it. Similarly, an exceptionally good experience will elicit the same reaction.

But what, if anything, do consumers hope to gain from leaving feedback?

Customer feedback and expectations

Contrary to popular belief, good customer feedback is more common.

In 2017, 63% of consumers wrote positive reviews for local businesses, while 32% left negative ones.

This is great news for new businesses attempting to build an online presence, but it isn’t the whole story.

While fewer people left negative reviews, a whopping 23% did so out of vengeance. As far as emotions go, that is a pretty strong one. So what exactly do these people expect to gain from venting their frustrations online?

70% of consumers who leave negative reviews expect a response, but only 38% of them receive one. Many companies are missing a huge opportunity to reduce negative customer feedback and increase their star ratings by not responding to bad reviews.

While there are many effective ways to deal with negative customer comments, the most current data we have tells us that timing is everything. Pay attention to what your customers are saying and respond to negative feedback as quickly as possible. It often helps to employ an automated system that will alert you to poor ratings as soon as they occur.

Important lessons about customer reviews

Thanks to all of this market research, we have learned that in today’s digital world, there are a few unavoidable truths about the power of online reviews:

  1. CSAT scores, the standard measure of customer satisfaction, is a relevant predictor of future success
  2. Consumers are more likely to leave online reviews when their experience strikes an emotional chord, good or bad
  3. When customers leave negative reviews, they expect a response

This is where it gets really interesting. According to a study cited in the Harvard Business Review, reducing customer effort is the most significant factor contributing to customer loyalty, which is why First Contact Resolution (FCR) is so important.

What is “First Contact Resolution” and Why Does it Matter?

First Contact Resolution means exactly that, resolving a conflict in a single interaction, whether over the phone, email, live chat, or even social media. People have very short attention spans these days, which is why it is not only important to respond to negative customer feedback quickly, but to do so in a way that reduces any additional effort on the part of the consumer.

Online reviews and star ratings aren’t going anywhere soon, but thanks to new technology and an abundance of data, it is entirely possible to keep your clients happy by addressing negative customer feedback quickly and efficiently.

To find out how you can monitor your customer feedback, create alerts, and even automate responses, start a free trial of SmileBack.